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Prospects ride no-hitter to semis

July 22, 2019 | Annika Wall

Prospect UPDATED

St. Louis Prospects Scout Kirchner only had one loss going into the quarterfinal matchup of the WWBA 17u Prospect Meadows National Championship. In their very first match of pool play Go Pro 2020 Daly dealt them a 5-1 loss. It didn’t bother them, as they went on to win five straight games. The St. Louis Prospect’s sixth game in Iowa offered a chance for revenge. 

Led by a Parker Wright no-hitter, the Prospects only let Go Pro reach base twice and kept them scoreless through seven grueling innings. When the eighth came around, St. Louis loaded the bases with one out and Anthony Klein took charge. 

Battling an 0-2 count, Klein poked a fastball to the right side to take a 1-0 lead. Nicholas Stiebler followed with a two RBI fielder’s choice, extending their lead to three runs. 

“We won a lot of games really close. We’re not afraid of a bases-loaded, no outs situation,” Larry Kirchner, Prospect’s head coach, said. “We’ve been there, done that many times, so nobody is going to fall apart and crack. We were very confident in our defense.”

On defense, Wright knew he only had eight pitches to give in the rest of the game. But if they had the lead, he was determined to close it out. First, he forced a fly ball to right field, bringing Prospects one out away from a semifinal berth. Even though Go Pro scored, Wright showed his mettle during the next at-bat. With a 3-2 count and the game on the line, he zoomed a 91 mph fastball across the plate, striking out his last of four and propelling his team to the semifinals. 

“It feels great. My team played awesome behind me. My shortstop Trevor Austin, man he made some nice plays and helped me out with that no-hitter,” Wright said. “We were a little cold at the plate, but we came up at the end and got the job done.”

One thing that truly stood out is how they played like a team. It shouldn’t be a surprise since they’ve played together since they were eight years old. When they were 14u, they were ranked top of the country by USSSA. That connection showed, especially on the defensive end. Prospects had only allowed one run in bracket play, winning the first two games 1-0 and 2-0. 

Kirchner is the first to say his team doesn’t score a lot of runs. That’s why defense has been Prospect’s key to success. Across the tournament’s seven games, Prospects have scored 32 runs, with four of the wins being by two runs or less. As a team, they’ve combined for a meager four errors. 

Even so, one face was missing from Prospects. Kentucky commit Briar Stinson injured his elbow at an MLB camp in late June. His absence is having a direct effect on Prospect, as he adds both hitting and pitching depth to the team.

“Without Briar Stinson, our lineup isn’t as deep as it should be,” Kirchner said. “Not having that guy really hurts because he’s in our top four to five hitters. That pushes our other guys up, so it really stings not having him. He can seriously hit.

“We just have to play defense,” he continued. “We have to run around, catch all the balls, make all the plays. We can’t make errors. At this point, it doesn’t even matter. We’re going to go out and play and see what happens.”

Offensively, Wright leads St. Louis with a .467 batting average in addition to striking out four batters against Go Pro. Trevor Austin has also converted well at the plate, batting .438 with four doubles and six runs. 

As the No. 8 seed, Prospects will face off against No. 12 GRB Rays and their array of high-quality pitchers. In other semifinal action, No. 2 Hitters 2020 will take on No. 3 Cangelosi Sparks 2020 Black.

Be sure to catch all the scouting info from the Perfect Game WWBA National Championship at Prospect Meadows on the Perfect Game website, www.perfectgame.org.

Annika Wall